Halton Hills Calls for Quarries to Demonstrate Need

Limestone quarry in Tennessee, photo courtesy Wikipedia
Limestone quarry in Tennessee, photo courtesy Wikipedia


Just received from Concerned Residents Coalition:

The municipal Council for the Town of Halton Hills passed a motion at its meeting on Monday evening, April 13, requesting that “the Ontario Government amend the Provincial Policy Statement and the Aggregate Resources Act to require aggregate extraction proponents to demonstrate need for the particular supply of resource proposed for extraction.” The Concerned Residents Coalition applauds this questioning of the Ontario Public Policy Statement which, since 2005, has eliminated the requirement for aggregate project proponents to demonstrate need for new aggregate sources leading to an increasing number of contested aggregate pit and quarry sites across southern Ontario. In these contentious cases, citizen and municipal priorities are trumped by provincial policy, a policy which is equally at odds with other provincial priorities. Doug Tripp, President of the CRC, responded to the Halton Hills motion, saying: “Your resolution to take the matter to the Province is right on the mark in our estimation. There is no question that the skewed policy framework that exists in Ontario has given rise to these quarry and pit battles that besiege so much of Southern Ontario—which the Province clearly needs to address.” In introducing the motion, Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette referred to some of the submissions to the current review of the Aggregate Resources Act, including the David Suzuki Foundation, the Canadian Environmental Law Society and Gravelwatch Ontario, all of whom called for the reinstatement of proof of need for aggregate. Mayor Bonnette concluded: “The proposed Motion…seeks to level the playing field and lead to having more comprehensive planning for individual extraction sites that is transparent, shows justification and need, and results in more sustainable use of aggregate resources.” The Mayor has been very vocal about this issue. In a recent speech to the Acton BIA, he said, “You can’t sit on your hands for this one.” The Concerned Residents Coalition (CRC), a large grassroots group based in Rockwood, Ontario, and representing residents in Guelph Eramosa Township, Halton Region, Milton and Halton Hills, has been assessing the potential impacts of the so-called “Hidden Quarry” proposed by James Dick Construction Limited on Highway 7 just east of Rockwood and west of Halton Hills. Among the impacts would be an additional 26 heavy gravel trucks an hour driving through Halton Hills over an indefinite number of years, adding to an already serious truck traffic issue in the heart of the Town.The proposed site is on the boundary of Guelph Eramosa Township (GET) and Milton, and also, therefore, on the boundary between Wellington County and Halton Region. All these stakeholders are assessing the application, but it is GET which must make the decision whether or not to re-zone prime agricultural and hazardous land to industrial/extractive. The site is in the middle of agricultural and environmentally sensitive land and just across the highway from the Green Belt at the headwaters of major rivers feeding the Grand River Watershed. For more information see www.hiddenquarry.ca .



  • I am impressed by the knowledge and concern Halton Hills Council and Mayor Rick Bonnette bring to quarry issues. Those of us concerned about the potential negative impacts of the Hidden Quarry just outside Rockwood, with haul routes through the town of Halton Hills, appreciate their support. The question of “need” for aggregate must be addressed!

  • Thank you, Halton Hills Town Council. “Is the proposed quarry even needed?” An excellent question. I appreciate all in the region who are making use of their various areas of expertise to demand answers to so many relevant questions and concerns on this matter.

  • Thanks to the Halton Hills Town Council for taking on leadership as the region faces this issue. This is what politicians need to do more of — representing the people who elect them and reflecting their concerns about what is happening to the precious natural environment.

  • Even the aggregate industry body, The Ontario Aggregate Resources Corporation Annual report for 2013 http://www.toarc.com/pdfs/Stats_2013.pdf shows the declining trend of aggregate production from 2007 to 2013.

    From a high of 158 million tons to 132 million tons.

    This represents a 16.5% drop in demand over 6 years. I think the industry association answers our question of need quite eloquently.

    In a word HQ is it is not needed!

  • I think the writing is on the wall for all provincial policy stakeholders. We are losing 350 acres a day of farmland in Ontario to urban development and aggregate extraction. We have lost 75% of our wetlands in Ontario for the same needs. Mitigation and monitoring are not the solutions to this uncontrolled loss of land and wetland habitat. We need to stop and consider the consequences of our current policies. Time for revisions that require a demonstrated need versus the destruction of our natural heritage. Change our policies before it is too late for our future generations.

  • A BIG thanks to Halton Hills on this initiative …more towns and municipalities should do this . Not to stifle or block any kind of progress but to be sure that there is a definite need . There are other properties that may be taking aggregate out from this area and this will kill the economy and maybe the social/economic fabric of these communities . not top mention the destruction of the ecosystems turning them into a wasteland in its aftermath This needs to be controlled properly !!!!!

  • This action by Halton Hills is so timely. The existence of so many quarry and pit battles throughout Southern Ontario is ample evidence of a flawed policy framework that only the Province can correct. As a relevant example, the Hidden Quarry proponent, James Dick, in their own reports assumes that 6 current aggregate suppliers to their Bolton Ready-Mix plant will be replaced by the Hidden Quarry, not because the present supplies are depleted but because the somewhat closer location of the Hidden Quarry will reduce their operating costs and fatten their bottom line! The Province needs to act to ensure that the environmental and social destruction of quarry operations like Hidden Quarry is not allowed to continue just to make aggregate companies richer. Bravo Mayor Bonnette and Council!

  • “The more you take away, the bigger it gets.” This old adage may apply to digging quarries, but does not pertain to diminishing farmland in Southern Ontario, which is being lost at an extravagant rate to aggregate entrepreneurs and unimaginative developers alike. In the case of the so-called Rockwood Hidden Quarry, draconian Provincial legislation, more suitable perhaps for the Middle Ages, has conspired with ineffectual municipal legislators to permit more mass pockmarking and destruction of diminishing wetlands and farmlands required to protect water flow and feed a growing Ontario population. Thank you to Mayor Rick Bonnette and the Halton Hills Town Council for pointing out one of the principal flaws in our Province’s legislation and for proposing adjustments that would place small municipalities on an equal playing field when they are faced with aggregate mining decisions.

    Under the protection of the current decidedly undemocratic Provincial legislation, the quarry entrepreneur concerned, James Dick, appears to have singularly decided that his proposed Hidden Quarry must be accepted regardless of the thousands of immediate neighbors affected and without serious consultation with the various bordering municipal communities who will suffer the constant heavy trucking that will blast through their already traffic-filled streets.

  • The fact that the industry is so reluctant to be asked the question of need suggests that they fear the answer – that it is NOT ‘needed’. Odd also that in application after application they suggest that we are running out of supply that is urgently needed. Is it unreasonable to say “prove it”? Dr. Larry Jensen PhD. presented an analysis to the Standing Committee reviewing the Aggregate Resources Act that Ontario has a couple of centuries of supply available from existing pits and quarries, with no shortages in sight. Bravo to Halton! May more municipalities join in.

  • My thanks to Halton Hills Council and Mayor Rick Bonnette.
    Hidden Quarry’s health and environmental issues are many. But with the demand for aggregate down and supplies higher than ever, you focused on a question many in this community have been asking for quite sometime…. Why?

  • I was present at the Halton Hills council meeting at which this proposal was approved, and was highly impressed by the grasp of the situation shown by Mayor Bonnette and his council. Allowing the development of new quarries, without determining whether the need for aggregate actually justifies these moves is just another example of government selling out to big business. This lax approach flies in the face of the principles laid down in the legislation for the preservation of the Greenbelt, the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Morraine. We need more local and provincial politicians who are prepared to stop the rot.

  • As someone who lives next to a quarry in Guelph, I can assure you that they are disruptive to live by (noise, trucks, dust, occasional violent vibrations that shake your entire house, sometimes causing damage and making property less valuable, etc.), but the Hidden Quarry proposal is especially egregious because it is in an area of extraordinary natural beauty. There is no need to let new quarries open and spread in this area. There is plenty of aggregate elsewhere in Ontario where it will not disturb people so much and where it will not mar an especially scenic area.

  • Congratulations to Mayor Bonnette and the Halton Hills Council for taking a stand on such an important environmental issue for the future of Ontario. A balance between our need for natural resources and substantabilty of the environment must be more closely examined as we continue to consider future economic growth within our province. Given the recent media and community attention that has been raised over the past few years regarding new aggregate extraction sites the time is most appropriate for a serious review of current provincial policies . Hopefully more of our elected officials will echo the recent efforts of the Halton council.

  • Attention needs to paid by the government into unnecessary aggregate extraction. Kudos.

  • This is fantastic news. We already extract enough aggregates to fulfil the needs of Ontario and more. Modesty this days is out of fashion. Lets think more about future generations and stop behave so expansive and greedy.
    I applaud mayor Bonnette and Halton Hills Council with hope that healthy decisions and choices prevail in case of Hidden Quarry.

  • It is about time someone questioned the NEED for more gravel rather than having an open door for gravel companies to disrupt and destroy in order to boost income. The Governments proclivity for riding roughshod over the citizens of Ontario with little regard to public opinion OR cost is becoming legion. (Gas plant, Orange, Sex ed., dismissal golden handshakes and quarry applications).

  • Its great to see Mayor Bonnette and Halton Hills council so involved and they have made their position clear.

    Perhaps I have missed it, but the Mayor of Guelph Eramosa, Chris White, and his council have not been so vocal.

    I recall Mayor White saying something to the effect that James Dick will need to meet certain requirements before the zoning change is approved. That was before the municipal election. Not very reassuring. Considering Guelph Eramosa seems to need to always hire private contractors to review the studies for them and make recommendations. (Can’t they do it themselves???)

    It would be nice if Mayor White and the Guelph Eramosa Township councillors could just this once make a decision without relying on people they hire.

    It would also be nice if they would clearly state their position.

    How the Hidden Quarry can contribute in one single positive way for our Guelph Eramosa Township is beyond me. Perhaps a few tax dollars and maybe a handful of jobs.

    Certainly the negatives far outweigh a few thousand in tax revenue for the Township.

    Come on Mayor White and Council……..state your position clearly on this!! Your neighbours have!

  • Mayor Bonnette,
    thank you so much for asking the most relevant question. You have asked the question that is at the heart of this fight. I am so grateful for your taking on the hard issues and asking the hard questions. Thank you so much for your leadership.
    Marion Willms
    Rockwood, Ontario

  • Harold Wilson April 14, 2015 at 11:52 pm #

    Before any “need” is met, one must always ask “At what cost?”

    When the cost is the disruption of the lifestyle of any community (not just the densely populated ones) and the potential of handing over to successive generations a degraded natural environment, while the only benefit would accrue to an individual entity, corporate or otherwise, that cost is simply too high.

    The proponent’s argument in support of the “need” for “Hidden Quarry” is specious at best; despite oft-repeated promises to be a “good neighbour” to all living near the proposed quarry site, it is clear that residents of Halton Hills, rural Milton and Guelph Eramosa Township are becoming increasingly uneasy with fine words and promises.

    What is causing this response? Science. The proponent’s reassurances that “we will do a good job” are not answers for resident questions and concerns about holes in the proponents’ studies. Nor are those reassurances sitting well with the municipalities that, for example, would have to shoulder the increased costs of maintaining the infrastructure attributable to a sudden and sustained increase in truck traffic.

    My family extends its thanks to Mayor Bonnette and Council for its leadership by insisting that there be no “Hidden Quarry”, aka “Eramosa Quarry”, until a valid and verifiable need for such an operation, balanced against the costs associated with it, can be demonstrated. No doubt other affected municipalities will align themselves with Halton once they have also been convinced of the fatal flaws in the proposal to open up a first, but most likely ONLY a first, quarry in the heart of this pristine natural environment.

  • I applaud Mayor Bonnettes initiative.Quarries have damaged our communities irreparably over the years from the day to day activities required to quarry.The true cost of another quarry will be immeasurable with respect to negative community impacts, that will be felt for generations.

  • Finally….the people might get a chance to decide …it’s about time the electorate, the public, the citizens, the taxpayers, the residents, we the people decide not some gravel monger….good for Mayor Bonnette, good for CRC and good for us…..the madness has to stop.

  • but, halton hills council agreed to the Acton Quarry new license on the Niagara Escarpment……. maybe if need had to be proved they would have said no?

  • With an average of 26 heavy gravel truck trips an hour to and from the quarry from 6
    am to 6 pm, for decades, passing through small towns; and with mining with explosives to 23 metres below the water table that will damage one of the most significant cold water streams (Brydson Creek) that the GRCA says is “an exceptionally high quality, … habitat for a natural and self-sustaining brook trout population,” –– to name just two of the priceless factors to be considered in this decision, it’s hard to imagine that the case for gravel extraction in this location could be justified if corporate interests were not given free reign. Brook trout require “stable, spring-sourced flows of very high quality ground-water.” So do we.

  • To be honest, I was amazed that the need for aggregate resources wasn’t an automatic consideration when quarry applications were filed. Thank you to Halton Hills and Mayor Bonnette for leading the battle to fix an obvious wrong.

  • Nobody needs this “Hidden Quarry”. What this province needs is to recognize that the process leading to a quarry opening is seriously flawed. The ARA is decidedly skewed in favour of aggregate companies at the expense of municipalities, residents and our delicate natural environment.

  • Mayor Bonnette and Halton Hills Council have displayed strong leadership on this issue and what is required now is for other GTA governments to raise their own concerns regarding this inequity in the Provincial Policy Statement. Unless more voices are heard the Aggregate Industry will continue to have free reign on aggregate extraction using the argument of diminishing supplies. This is not a free market industry and this resource, which belongs to all Ontarians, is being made available for financial gain to a limited few organizations at great Social and Environmental detriment to the average Ontarian.
    Municipalities have no power to fight the Provincial Policy Statement directives supported by the Government agencies. This results in the voices of their constituents are muffled by the thunder of Blasting and Crushing of aggregate.

  • Thank you Mayor Bonnette and Halton Hills Council for the concern and initiative. Hopefully Guelph Eramosa and Milton will recognize it. As a resident of Nassagaweya I know what it’s like to live near quarries; there are already over 20 of them in the Halton region. The impact this quarry would have on the environment and residents, however, will be much greater. Water systems, air quality and property values would clearly be affected but safety should also be a concern. While the primary haul route suggested is through Acton, trucks will clearly also be going through Nassagaweya. Acton is a small town with roadside shops and many pedestrians. Both Fifth Line and Sixth Line in Nassagaweya are highly traveled cycling routes. They are part of Halton region’s “Loop Routes” for cyclists. As a resident of 9 years I can say that between May and October dozens to hundreds of cyclists pass my home on a daily basis.
    To put another quarry in a region designated agricultural and ESA (Environmentally Sensitive Area) seems ridiculous. The 2005 Halton Region ESA report concluded that “extractive industries have had a significant impact on the ESA in the Sixth Line area, where changes in hydrology have resulted in the drying of beaver ponds and the loss of significant salamander breeding areas.” The Niagara Escarpment Plan of 2005 stated “the particular combination of geological and ecological features along the Niagara Escarpment results in a landscape unequaled in Canada.” Canada is vast and rich in natural resources – why are we putting quarries in people’s backyards and in both environmentally and culturally sensitive areas?

  • The current Aggregate Resources Act allows pits/quarries to be dug anywhere including environmentally protected land; it bypasses the environmental assessment process; it does not require that proof of need of the aggregate be established; it requires that pits/quarries be dug “close to market” which skews the decision-making process; and it does not take farmland, source water or people’s health protection into account. As an Ontario Taxpayer and Resident I demand a commitment from my government to make fresh food and clean water a priority for Ontarians both today and for future generations. #FoodAndWaterFirst

  • Isn’t the demand inherent to the operation of any quarry? What I mean to say is that a quarry exists and grows for the sole reason that there is demand. In the end, you’re going to essentially have the same amount of land displaced whether its from one giant quarry that grows to meet demand, or a number of smaller quarries that grow and get started because of demand.

    Am I missing something here?

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